The Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association (WBCA) has selected outstanding community leaders to lead two of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration’s most traditional and time-honored events; the IBC/Commerce Bank Youth Parade Under the Stars and the Anheuser-Busch Washington’s Birthday Parade.
The WBCA is proud to announce that “Volunteers Serving the Need” (VSTN) will serve as the 2024 Parade Marshals for the Anheuser-Busch Washington’s Birthday Parade. Receiving the honor for the IBC/Commerce Bank Youth Parade Under the Stars will be “I Love Laredo”.
“In celebrating the 126th Washington’s Birthday, we honor ‘Volunteers Serving the Need’ and ‘I Love Laredo’ as our Parade Marshals. Their dedication mirrors the community spirit and patriotism at the heart of our festivities. We’re grateful for their significant contributions to Laredo and Webb County and delighted to have them lead the way in showcasing our rich, cultural tapestry,” WBCA President Rochelle V. Gonzalez said.
The IBC/Commerce Bank Youth Parade Under the Stars, takes place Thursday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m. The Anheuser-Busch Washington’s Birthday Parade, will be held Saturday, Feb. 17, at 9 a.m. Both follow a route South on San Bernardo Avenue, to the heart of Laredo’s historic downtown district.
As Parade Marshals, the designated representatives will serve as official “WBCA Ambassadors”. On the day of the Parades, the Parade Marshals, and their respective groups, will lead more than 200 entries that participate in these grand events each year.
“IBC and Commerce Bank are proud to continue as sponsors of the WBCA Youth Parade Under the Stars. This event serves not only to showcase our young people, but to nurture their learning of all the great leaders who built and shaped this nation. Equally important is showcasing our parade marshals who diligently dedicate their time to serve our City and Webb County,” said, Gabriel Castillo, Sr. Vice President of Corporate Marketing.
The IBC/Commerce Bank Youth Parade Under the Stars is scheduled to take place on Thursday, February 15, 2024. This illuminated evening parade highlights talented youth as they promenade over the streets of Downtown Laredo and entertain the crowds with their dance routines, marching units and fully decorated floats.
Selected to serve as the 2024 Parade Marshals for the IBC/Commerce Bank Youth Parade Under the Stars is “I Love Laredo.” “I Love Laredo,” is a non-profit organization established in 2019. The founder Luis “Big Lou” Ramirez was seeking to make a positive change in his own life and decided not only to make changes in his personal life but also make a meaningful impact on his Laredo community which he calls home. The organization began with only four volunteers who used social media to spread the awareness of keeping Laredo beautiful and clean. Along with this awareness, he also invoked the spirit of volunteering, encouraging physical activity, and inspire people and other non-profit organizations to give back to their community. Ramirez encourages volunteers to help beautify the Laredo community and at the same time volunteers experience all the beauty Laredo has to offer. I Love Laredo holds over 40 cleanups a year and, on average, collect more than 30 bags of trash per clean up. The organization hosts and executes their own event, “Walk with Da Block” every Sunday. Each walk is hosted in a different public location such as parks and Laredo streets. While cleaning the areas, they also share life experiences and add some physical activity. Through social media platforms, especially Facebook @walkwithdablock and @iloveltx they have documented involvement and engagements with a number of organizations that include: The Rio Grande International Study Center, The City of Laredo, Webb County, Keep Laredo Beautiful, The Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center, Rotarians, numerous schools in both the Laredo and United ISD, various local chapters of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Lake Casa Blanca International State Park (Texas Parks and Wildlife), Smiles from Heaven and numerous other organizations, and individuals. I Love Laredo and its founder, Luis “Big Lou” Ramirez have demonstrated the importance of caring and beautifying our community and it is why He and I Love Laredo are the 2024 Parade Marshals for the IBC/Commerce Bank Youth Parade Under the Stars.
The Anheuser-Busch Washington’s Birthday Parade will take place on Saturday, February 17, 2024. Referred to as the “crown jewel” of the Celebration, this international parade is led by the ever-popular Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales and features dazzling floats from all over South Texas. During this parade, Princess Pocahontas is presented with a key to the City by the Mayor of Laredo; the Society of Martha Washington debutantes display their beautifully beaded, gowns; and bands, marching units, clowns and dance teams perform for the crowds making this a truly unforgettable event.
“At L&F Distributors we are honored to see Volunteers Serving the Need (VSTN), represented by Gigi M.E. Garza recognized as Anheuser Busch Parade Marshal,” Steve LaMantia, Vice President of L&F Distributors said. “Our GM Jaime Mendiola is a veteran and my son in law is currently deployed in Saudi Arabia so this takes on special meeting for our family at L&F. We are proud to do our part for the people who serve, whether it be through our “Folds of Honor” program or recognition of Ms. Garza who serve our veterans. L&F is proud to be able to support our men and women who wear and have worn the uniform”.
Selected this year to lead the Anheuser-Busch Washington’s Birthday Parade as Parade Marshals is Volunteers Serving the Need (VSTN). Gigi Garza is the Founder/CEO of Volunteers Serving the Need (VSTN.) The mission of VSTN, a non- profit, tax exempt organization, is to serve Webb County Veterans and their surviving spouses. The primary service VSTN provides to eligible families is two bags of groceries, frozen meats/vegetables/fruits and personal hygiene products monthly at no cost to the participants.
Ms. Garza was born in Rio Grande City, Texas into a military/lawenforcement family. Gigi’s grandfather served in the Army Fort Ring Gold 12th Cavalry Unit E, father with the Army-Navy, and mother with the Marines. Gigi was the eldest of six sisters raised in Seal Beach, California. Three enlisted and one served in the U.S. in southern California.
Ms. Garza had been married to one of seven brothers, all of whom voluntarily served in the Armed Forces. Gigi has two daughters, the oldest with a Master of Business from TAMIU and the youngest is a registered nurse (graduating from LCC.) Learning volunteerism through her Dad and Mom, Gigi began looking for volunteer opportunities in Laredo’s local churches shortly after moving here in the ninety’s. Gigi has served the following organizations: Templo Cristano Piedra Angular (Manos De Ayuda), First United Methodist Church (Angel Food Ministry), Laredo Stepping Stone, Christ Church Episcopal (New Leven), Joseph Warehouse for the Nation, Habitat for Humanity, and Grace Bible Church. Ms. Garza received the 2009 Jefferson Nomination Award for Public Service in Webb County TX and was 1 of 3 honorees in the 2017 Unsung Heroes Award by the Laredo Next Generation Rotary for her extraordinary service to our community.
Gigi was a member of several Rotary’s in Laredo and Newcomers Friends of Laredo until COVID.
Gigi has developed VSTN to serve local heroes with devout devotion, boot strap financing and recycled discards since 2009. VSTN has grown into a resource for local heroes to obtain the assistance and support they need to survive the perils and remnants of their service to our country.
Ms. Garza has dedicated her life to Making a Difference in the lives of those that have made such a Difference in Ours. As the 2024 Parade Marshals, VSTN, represented by her, will lead more than 200 entries that participate in the parade every year.
“Thank You WBCA for the opportunity To Honor VETERANS, male and female who have served our Country. Freedom is not free but these people stepped up to support us all,” Gigi M.E. Garza said.
Both parades will be sharing the same unifying theme this year: “Reflejos on the Rio Grande – Celebrating the Colorful History, Culture and Heritage of Los Dos Laredos.”
The streets of Laredo will come alive with this year’s parade theme “Reflejos on the Rio Grande” as we celebrate 126 years of tradition and embrace the COLORS of “Los Dos Laredos.” Look for inspiration within our history, culture and heritage and spark your imaginations with vibrant COLORS beyond the Red, White and Blue! Highlight the people, history, culture and heritage that makes us all uniquely American. We hope you can capture some of that Celebration magic, reflecting on what it is you love about the great cities and countries you live in. Show the mix of colors that remind us of all we love about living near the Rio Grande, paying special tribute to the Founding Fathers’ who helped shape our great city and this great nation.
Throughout the years, the Celebration has grown to be over a month long and consists of parades, dazzling pageants, fireworks, a carnival, an air show, a sizzling jalapeño festival and much more. Combined, WBCA events attract nearly 500,000 residents and visitors, and contributes an estimated $14 million every year to the local economy.
The 126th Washington’s Birthday Celebration takes place January 25 – March 1, 2024.
For additional information visit www.wbcalaredo.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, contact the WBCA office at (956) 722-0589, or visit 1819 E. Hillside Road in Laredo, TX.